By Promise Eze
Like Timothy Weah, the son of the Liberian President who is in Qatar to represent his birth country, USA, there appears to be players of Nigerian origin who are also at the World Cup to represent other nations.
BlackBox chronicles seven footballers who were born to Nigerian parents but are donning the colours of other countries at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Bukayo Ayoyinka Saka – England
The 21-yr-old is a winger, left-back, or midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal and the England national team.
Saka was born in Ealing, Greater London, to Yoruba Nigerian parents, Adenike and Yomi, who emigrated to London from Nigeria as economic migrants.
Prior to joining Arsenal, Saka played youth football for local club Greenford Celtic.
Since making his debut for Gareth Southgate’s side in 2020, Saka has featured 22 times for the 1966 World Cup winners, scoring four goals in the process. The English Footballer of the Year struck thrice as the team qualified for Qatar.
Manuel Obafemi Akanji – Switzerland
Manuel Obafemi Akanji is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a defender for Premier League club Manchester City and the Switzerland national team.
The 27-yr-old was born to a Swiss mother and a Nigerian father. He could have been playing for the Super Eagles.
But the Neftenbach-born centre-back’s progression from the Swiss youth teams to the national side was completed in 2017.
This would be his second appearance in the competition having featured for the Europeans four years ago.
Akanji, who recently moved to England, has 42 caps and made his debut for the Red Crosses in 2017. He featured for them at the youth level and was touted to represent Nigeria before pitching his tent with his birthplace.
Samuel Ayomide Adekugbe
The 27-yr-old was Born in England to parents with Nigerian heritage. Raised in Canada, Samuel Adekugbe could have played for any of the three countries.
Adekugbe was eligible to represent England, Nigeria or Canada internationally. In 2012, he was quoted saying he dreamed of playing for England at Wembley. However, he has represented Canada at youth and senior level.
He currently plays for Hatayspor in Turkey Lig 1.
Jamal Musiala (Germany)
Musiala was born in Stuttgart, Germany, to a father of Nigerian origin and a German mother.
Musiala was enrolled in Chelsea academy after his parents moved to England in 2011.
The 19-yr-old represented England at the youth level until Bayern Munich came calling, and he returned to Germany.
He is eligible to represent all three of Nigeria, England and Germany, however he opted for his mother’s country.
Karim-David Adeyemi (Germany)
The 19-yr-old is a German professional footballer who plays as a forward for Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund and the Germany national team.
Adeyemi was born in Munich, Germany, to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother.
He is a youth international for Germany, having represented the Germany under-16s, under-17s and under-21s.
Noah Arinzechukwu Okafor (Switzerland)
Noah Arinzechukwu Okafor is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as midfielder for Austrian Bundesliga club Red Bull Salzburg and the Switzerland national team.
He was born in Binningen, Switzerland, to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
The 22-yr-old’s talent was spotted when he was with the Basel youth academy, and the forward had been a part of the Swiss youth system since the under-15s.
Ike Ugbo – Canada
Born in England, Ugbo grew up in Canada and played youth soccer there before returning to England, where he played with the youth team of Chelsea.
He had loan spells at Barnsley, Milton Keynes Dons, Scunthorpe United, Roda JC and Cercle Brugge, before signing for Genk in 2021.
Ike Ugbo was eligible to represent Nigeria (through his parents), England (through birth), and Canada (through youth residency).
The Chelsea academy product helped England U20 win the 2017 Toulon Tournament.
But in September 2021, Ugbo made public his decision to play international football for three-time African champions, Nigeria.
A couple of months later, though, the 24-year-old forward made a u-turn and instead switched his international allegiance to Canada.
And after only making eight appearances for the Reds without scoring a goal, Ugbo was included in Canada’s squad for Qatar 2022.
And the Troyes star will look to help the Canadians make it past the group stage for the first time in World Cup history.